Spring 2023 community update and invite to our next event!
Some exciting things have been happening since the start of this year at Anticiplay (besides getting our climate courthouse game All Rise funded, believe it or not!). From more activism, to PhD progress, to a new Games for Better Futures event on May 15— we’ve listed the most recent major developments below!
Games, Activism and The Art of Destroying Shit part 2
Firstly, we started the year off strong with our second Games, Activism and The Art of Destroying Shit event. This event was even more inspiring than the last, since we built on findings and ideas from last time, and we were able to talk to activists and organisers Jesse van Duijl (FossielVrij NL) and Irene Guijt (Oxfam). This was such a riveting discussion, with topics ranging from how to get into activism, to games as inspirations, and leverage points in activism and rebellion.
The key take-aways you ask? People seems to get into activism when they start to feel like something is at stake — it’s about being worried, but also knowing the right people who’d also like to make a change. In addition, there is a delicate balance here: activism itself is a mix of compassion and moral outrage, though leaning too much in either direction might not enable one to embody opportunities for change properly. With regards to inspiring games, the Beautiful Trouble Card Deck was mentioned. Beautiful Trouble is an international network of artist-activist-trainers providing the next generations of activists with knowledge of strategies, designs and theories for effective campaigns. The card deck serves as a way to playfully engage with these elements, while drawing inspiration for real life action. Knowledge of these (and similar) leverage points is crucial, and it’s perfectly encapsulated in a quote by Damon Gameau that Irene brought up: “It’s all well and good to sound the fire alarm, but you’ve also got to show people where the exits are.” One important question that came up here was: how do we design different manifestations of power in games? From power over, to power within, and even hidden power — how do we let people engage with these dynamics? How do we show them where the leverage points are? And how does this translate into real world action?
A massive thanks to the participants and the community for engaging Jesse and Irene with these inspiring questions!
Game Dev Rebellion
Another huge development: together with Jennifer Estaris from ustwo games, our own Dr. Joost Vervoort set up the Game Dev Rebellion. The goal of the rebellion is to get more creative and imaginative people involved in activism — in particular people who work in the gaming industry. The Game Dev Rebellion — now active on Signal and on Discord — believes people in the gaming industry have the potential to organize climate action in ways that are unique to the world. In Joost’s own words:
“When game designers are deeply entangled with and committed to the realities of activism, we are developing experiential and embodied understandings of what it means to fight for the planet. Our goals shift, we become more committed. We meet new people and become part of activist communities. We make different games. And we weave the resonant experiences and salient details about activism into those games — making those realities more accessible.”
The Game Dev Rebellion is about getting directly involved in climate action, building communities and connections, and becoming different people who make different games. You can read more about The Game Dev Rebellion in this interview with Joost and Jennifer — and do not hesitate to reach out to Joost on Twitter, LinkedIn or via email to get involved!
The PhD researchers on the project are making exciting progress! Carien Moossdorff is working on the following papers:
- A paper that applies Interaction Ritual Theory to live action role playing (larp) to help understand how larp can create joy around the building of institutions.
- A paper that examines a large number of climate games in terms of their assumptions about how change happens in their players. The paper contrasts these assumptions with a wide diversity of sociological theories of action. The aim of this paper is to open up a new design space for connecting games and action.
- A paper that analyses a number of exceptional games in terms of how they conceptualize system transformation, against criteria from the transformation literature. This paper helps understand how to conceptualize transformation in video games — and the pros and cons of different approaches.
- A paper that investigates how players make meaning out of their play experiences, to really get to the bottom of meaningful gaming in a fundamental manner.
Kyle Thompson is working on the following papers:
- A paper that investigates how public reflections on games, such as reviews, video essays and more, constitute an important element to the benefit of games as a site of reflection about the state of societies and what might be desirable more generally.
- A paper that maps out the potential transformation of the game industry as envisioned by the community around the Anticiplay project, Games for Better Futures, using the DRIFT X-Curve and the notion of imagination infrastructures (more on this later in the blog!).
- A paper that analyses the research process going into the All Rise game, especially the tabletop game version of the project.
- A theory paper that conceptualizes the idea of ‘utopian processes’ as a way to engage with making a better world — with relevance to games, activism, and wider creative practices.
In addition, MSc student Frans Rijnders is conducting research into the meaning-making processes around two unusually impactful games: Dark Souls and Disco Elysium. There are two questionnaires available in case you have experience with either of these games and would like to help out Frans (Dark Souls form here, and Disco Elysium form here)!
Furthermore: Joost is writing interesting things as well! Including a paper on imagination infrastructures and a book on deep playfulness and deep seriousness.
New website and new event
Last but not least, you might’ve noticed we’ve changed our appearance a bit on Twitter, LinkedIn and our Discord. With the help of the amazing Nivedita Bansal from NISRG, we’ve established a look that really fits the project — together with a new website which will function as a hub for our publications and events! Hopefully we’re still in time to jump on the “new year, new me” bandwagon. Either way — we’re happy to share this with the community!
And, speaking of events — a new online Games for Better Futures event is afoot on May 15, from 7–9PM CET. This session will be a workshop on Reimagining the Game Sector. As mentioned above, our PhD candidate Kyle has been working on a paper that maps out the potential transformation of the game industry as envisioned by the Games For Better Futures community around the Anticiplay project. For this, Kyle has performed a preliminary analysis of the past Games for Better Futures events — listing various tools, factors and ideas that came up when discussing the reimagining and reshaping of the game sector.
In this workshop, Kyle will present their results and we would love to hear your thoughts on these findings and on the Games for Better Futures meetings so far! So, if you’re interested in helping us reflect on some of our results (and if you’d like a sneak peek behind the scenes of Anticiplay’s research ;)), you can join us by signing up here!
We hope to see you there!
Anticiplay is an NWO Vidi-funded research project that aims to establish a new design paradigm for the gaming sector in collaboration with CreaTures EU. You can find our mission statement here! In short: we’re all about Games For Better Futures and Futures for Better Games. Follow us @anticiplay on Twitter, and feel free to engage us with any questions, games that you think are inspiring, and anything else!